Titus Andronicus Melds Despair and Sing-Alongs Live

Kyle Dean Reinford
A band that repeats "you will always be a loser" toward the end of a five minute song may be a little discouraging, but the put downs are worth it. Titus Andronicus finishes its magnum opus "No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future" by singing "you will always be a loser" a whopping 30 times, always with the kind of fervor you hear during last call in a karaoke bar when patrons stumble over each other to sing "Don't Stop Believin'."

Frontman Patrick Stickles makes being a loser into a point of pride, surrounding himself with his loser company and finishing the song with three assuring words -- "and that's okay."

Most of the songs by this New Jersey punk/bar-rock crossover band have equally long and ridiculous titles--"Richard II or Extraordinary Popular Dimensions and the Madness of Crowds (Responsible Hate Anthem)" is another one.

Loser talk aside, this is really a fun punk band, and like most fun punk bands they also go in for the silly, two-minute cuts. "Food Fight!" would make the Descendents proud, while "Titus Andronicus Forever," which repeats "the enemy is everywhere" with the occasional "no one seems to worry or care," gets a little more paranoid.

The short songs are fun, but the band really hits its stride with its longer cuts. A stand-out track from last year's Local Business is "My Eating Disorder," eight minutes about Stickles' battle with selective eating disorder. The condition sounds simple enough, but in the singer's case, it prevents him from enjoying and keeping down some of his favorite foods.

"Cream of my compulsion rising to the tip of the spout / screaming and convulsing, now I'm gonna spit it out. An amorphous monster makes his home inside my house" was one of the most honest and telling lyrics to come out of 2012.

Like Stickles' aching belly, the tune escalates from its confessional start into pounding drums and fast paced guitars as a refrain of "spit it out" descends, by the end of the song, into harried screaming.

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